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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 348:103-115 (2007)  -  DOI:

Multi-scale spatial variations in benthic sediment geochemistry and macrofaunal communities under a suspended mussel culture

Myriam D. Callier1,2, Christopher W. McKindsey1,2,*, Gaston Desrosiers2

1Ocean and Environmental Sciences Division, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, PO Box 1000, Mont Joli, Quebec G5H 3Z4, Canada
2Institut des Sciences de la Mer, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310 allée des Ursulines, CP 3300, Rimouski, Quebec G5L 3A1, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The chemical and biological effects of biodeposition from a mussel culture were evaluated at multiple spatial scales during the summer of 2003 in Great-Entry Lagoon, eastern Canada. Sediment samples were collected directly under and between mussel lines (positions 10 m apart: 10 m scale) from multiple sites (located ca. 100 m apart: 100 m scale) in each of 3 zones: reference (R), 0+ and 1+ mussel cohort zones (located at least 500 m apart: km scale). In general, redox potential decreased and sulphide concentration increased with sediment depth but did not differ among zones or positions. A clear difference in macrofaunal community structure was observed among R, 0+ and 1+ zones, as well as between the positions directly under mussel lines in 1+ sites (1+under) and those between 1+ mussel lines (1+between). The benthic community at 1+under positions was dominated by an opportunistic species (Capitella capitata) and had the lowest diversity and biomass. 0+ sites were characterised by the greatest number of species and biomass, suggesting that some species have benefited from a moderate organic loading from the 0+ mussels. Historical data indicate that the deeper part of the lagoon was a naturally enriched environment. The mussel farm probably contributes to local organic enrichment. Comparison of benthic communities from the present study (>20 yr after the initiation of mussel aquaculture) in the site to similar historical data from 3 periods (1975 and 1978, before mussel farming; 1982, at the start of farming activities; and 2004, after the 1+ mussel harvest) showed that community structure differed largely because of the greater abundance of deposit feeders in 2003. However, among these 3 periods the differences in benthic community structure were no greater than differences observed between years within the periods.

KEY WORDS: Aquaculture · Biodeposition · Organic enrichment · Redox potentials · Sulphide · Macrofaunal community structure · Spatial scale

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Cite this article as: Callier MD, McKindsey CW, Desrosiers G (2007) Multi-scale spatial variations in benthic sediment geochemistry and macrofaunal communities under a suspended mussel culture. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 348:103-115.

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